Yet another unsuccessful attempt to integrate all of science and all of religion in one Grand Unified Theory. Wilber has attempted before to wed the warring camps of science and religion (A Brief History of Everything; not reviewed; Up From Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, 1981; etc.). Here he claims that science is one of the “major differentiations of modernity” that have shattered a previously unified worldview in which all disciplines worked together in the same search for meaning. Today, he says, truth and meaning are distinct; science can provide the former, but religion is necessary to confer the latter. Wilber writes that we need to “integrate the Great Chain [of being] with the major differentiations of modernity,” including science. Fair enough, but he never really explains how this is supposed to occur. Blithely brushing aside centuries-old epistemological dilemmas about how we can know the world, Wilber claims that the empirical methods of science can be applied to mental and spiritual experience. The words —experience,— —knowledge,— and —empirical— seem to be equated in Wilber’s loose arguments. As for religion, he considers it in terms of —function,— devoid of specific contents, such as the belief that the Red Sea parted for the Israelites or in the virgin birth of Jesus. He never truly defines what he means by religion, which he inexplicably, continually refers to as “premodern.” So, too, scientists may quibble with Wilber’s vague generalizations about “the scientific method.” What kind of science? What types of religion? Wilber’s lack of specificity makes this book an exercise in theoretical, purely academic navel-gazing. This fusion of science and religion fails to take either discipline seriously as multifaceted, complex sets of meaning. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-375-50054-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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